'Atara, Wed 10.6.09, Afternoon
Atara, Rantis and Nilin checkpoints
Atara checkpoint, north of Ramallah is not manned now but the infrastructure is still in place: the pillbox, the checking booth and the plastic barriers are ready to be activated within minutes. This checkpoint surely does not seem permanently abandoned but rather its abandonment seems to be a temporary measure which can be changed immediately.
North of the settlement of Halamish, the vehicle path to the village An Nabi Salih has been blocked with barbed wire. This blockade has been there for a long time. The pillbox at the site seems not manned.
By the Palestinian village Rantis, east of the Green Line on road 446, there is a large checkpoint, which the sign tells us is not a "checkpoint" but the "Rantis border crossing" (ma'avar). The main entrance to the Palestinian village Rantis is on the western side of the 'crossing' and has been blocked with large cement blocks so that no vehicles can go in or out.
Around the checkpoint called Nilin, between the settlements of Matitiahu and Modiin Ilit on the south and Nili and Naale on the north, there is a lot of construction at the checkpoint site. It is definitely different than it was about 13 months ago when we visited. At about 5:30 p.m. there were many workers returning from a workday in Israel and being checked on their way home. It is important that we have a presence at this checkpoint in the afternoon hours.
We traveled north-west of Ramallah and in this area most Palestinian villages are disconnected from the road by blocks, barbed wire or earth mounds. The only Palestinian village whose name appears in any road sign is Rantis, because of the large checkpoint placed close to its main entrance. Like other checkpoints that we have seen developing into "border crossings", the name will be soon changed into a Hebrew name, as was the case with "Ma'avar Atarot" instead of Qalandya checkpoint and "Ma'avar Rachel" instead of Betlehem checkpoint.
We should contest the legality of blocking villages by Road 443. Does anyone know what is today the status of the demand that was placed some time ago to the legal system?